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Hello everyone ūüôā¬† We have a special treat for you this week– guest blogger Rick Terrien, the¬†Iowa County Area Economic Development Director:

 

Early Spring at the Bures Berry Patch. 

Acres of delicious strawberries getting ready to come to life!

Hi.¬† I’m Rick, and I’m working on an amazing opportunity to celebrate and create commercial opportunities for local, healthy, artisan foods.

I work for a local non-profit (social-profit) economic development organization, the Iowa County Area Economic Development Corp (ICAEDC) as its Executive Director.  We started in December of 2008, and I have worked on some exciting local foods initiatives during this launch.

¬†First to emerge is a wonderful new facility opening in Mineral Point this summer. The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is the name for the Hodan Center’s new commercial food processing facility, now being completed on the site of the former Dairy Queen on Dodge St. in Mineral Point.¬† I get to help organize and evangelize for this amazing artisan foods opportunity. The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen will be a new kind of value-platform for launching artisan foods enterprises of all kinds and scales.¬† The number and scope of the opportunities for artisan food entrepreneurship emerging through this facility will be amazing.

 The basic story is that most foods prepared for commercial sale must be processed in a state-inspected kitchen.  The Innovation Kitchen is a state inspected facility that will be used for Hodan Center food processing operations.  It is also being made available to chefs, artisan food entrepreneurs, and other enterprises that want to propagate their love for food into new or expanding small enterprises.

The facility itself will be a 10,000 square foot state of the art commercial food processing and distribution facility. It will be equipped with state of the art food preparation and processing tools.  The facility will be available on a rental basis to qualified food processors.  Contract artisan food preparation services will be also available, as will storage, marketing, sales and distribution services. 

¬†The training opportunities this facility presents are widespread.¬† Everything from local foods cooking schools to video training to community support for hands-on training and support for people participating in food assistance programs, to food growing and preservation seminars, and everything in between.¬† And what a resource the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen can become!¬† We are building in support systems to help local farms, artisan foods entrepreneurs, and existing small food enterprises grow their dreams.¬† Our first initiative is to try to make it as easy as possible for the widest range of people in the user communities – customers – to access this opportunity profitably.¬† We’re calling it our Partner Program.

 What I see as most encouraging for anyone considering a local foods enterprise operating from the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is that there is already an emerging demand for food lines prepared there.  The Innovation Kitchen is helping open these sales channels now.   It is very encouraging to see the demand for artisan foods emerging at the same moment this state of the art commercial kitchen is becoming available to the artisan food entrepreneur community.

 What a time and place for artisan foods.  What an opportunity for artisan food entrepreneurship.

¬†Do you have an heirloom recipe – or a new food innovation – you’ve considered marketing commercially?¬† Do you have an artisan food skill or product you’d like to share with your region and the world?Are you interested in artisan foods entrepreneurship?¬† Wait until you meet the new Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

 

 Its Grand Opening is set for Sunday afternoon, July 11.  Save the date. 

 

Welcome to Iowa County, Wisconsin.  Come grow with us!

 

Rick Terrien

rickt@iowacountyedc.org

For more information:¬† Check out Rick’s Sustainable Work blog.

 

 

 

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CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.